Pennsylvania Launches First Mobile Narcotic Treatment Program

Driving Recovery for PACredit: Commonwealth Media Services

POTTSVILLE, PA — On Friday, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and Gaudenzia, Inc. unveiled the state’s first mobile licensed narcotic treatment program, “Driving Recovery for PA.” This innovative initiative aims to tackle the opioid crisis by bringing evidence-based treatment directly to individuals struggling with substance use disorder (SUD) and co-occurring conditions.

Gaudenzia, Inc., one of the largest nonprofit treatment providers in the country, partnered with Alvernia University and state lawmakers for the unveiling. The program is expected to provide treatment to over 400 adults with opioid use disorder (OUD) and support 200 family members within its first five years.

The mobile unit’s opioid treatment program (OTP) offers medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which combines medications with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat OUD. Licensed through DDAP and certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the mobile unit is also registered at the federal level by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

“Meeting people where they are, both physically and mentally — that’s exactly what Driving Recovery for PA is doing for those battling the disease of addiction,” said DDAP Secretary Dr. Latika Davis-Jones. She emphasized the critical need for accessible, affordable, and equitable treatment options, particularly in rural areas where transportation can be a significant barrier.

Funded through a SAMHSA grant, the 37-foot mobile RV treatment center offers a range of services including assessments, certified recovery support, counseling, harm reduction services, and connections to support services. The program will serve medically underserved communities in six Pennsylvania counties: Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Snyder, and Union.

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Gaudenzia operates over 50 facilities across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C., providing care to more than 15,000 individuals annually. Since its founding in 1968, the organization has offered specialized services for diverse populations, including pregnant and parenting mothers, adolescents, and individuals with co-occurring disorders.

The statistics are grim. According to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, an average of 14 Pennsylvanians die every day from an overdose. In 2020, Opendata PA estimated that 299,000 Pennsylvanians struggled with a drug use disorder. These numbers highlight the urgent need for effective and accessible treatment solutions.

The mobile unit will travel to various partnering locations such as university campuses, churches, and county offices, making it easier for individuals in remote or underserved areas to access the care they need.

Mobile Treatment Revolutionizing Opioid Crisis Response

Bringing treatment directly to those in need removes significant barriers, such as transportation, that often prevent individuals from seeking help. Mobile treatment units can reach people in rural and medically underserved areas, providing critical services where they are most needed.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a proven method for treating opioid use disorder. It reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings, making it easier for individuals to focus on their recovery. By integrating MAT with counseling and other support services, the program addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction.

The potential implications of this mobile treatment program are far-reaching. It represents a significant step toward reducing overdose deaths and improving public health in Pennsylvania. By making treatment more accessible, the program can help more individuals achieve recovery, reducing the overall burden of substance use disorders on communities.

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Additionally, this initiative sets a precedent for other states facing similar challenges. If successful, it could serve as a model for mobile treatment programs nationwide, demonstrating how targeted interventions can make a meaningful difference in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

In summary, the launch of “Driving Recovery for PA” marks a critical development in Pennsylvania’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis. By bringing treatment directly to those in need, the state hopes to save lives, support recovery, and build healthier communities.

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